Ray turned away from the road long enough to study his fourteen-year-old son’s face. “You okay, Billy?”
Billy looked over at his father. “Yes, sir.”
Ray put his arm on his son’s shoulder, then turned his attention back towards the road. The path ahead of them was clear. They had not seen another car for the last ten miles, save for the abandoned ones spaced periodically on each side of the road. The law officer at the checkpoint had given Ray a warning as he looked over his driver’s license, “You might have to get out and walk the last mile or so, your neighborhood is on the under water list.”
Ray had nodded, thanked the officer, and drove away. That was over two hours ago, and Ray was beginning to get more than nervous at the lack of life present. The whole scene seemed…unreal.
The morning sun was well into the sky now, and Ray could almost see the humidity coming off the road ahead of them. They drove in silence for a few moments, and finally Billy spoke. Ray thanked the Lord for the words.
“How will we know what to get?” Billy reached in between them and grabbed the roll of large black trash bags.
“I’m not sure that we’ll have a lot of choice, son.” Ray tried his best to stay positive as Billy’s head hung down. “But you know, your mother and your sister are both safe at Aunt Betty’s, and we can thank God for that.” Hand on shoulder again. “They’ve really been good to us these last few days, letting us stay with them and all.”
“Will I have to go to school there, Dad?”
Be strong. “You might, but…I hear they’ve got a pretty good athletic program.”
Billy finally smiled. “And it has been kind of cool getting to hang out with Steve and Nathan.”
Thank You, Jesus. “There you go. God’s blessed us with a great family, Billy.”
Billy nodded. Then, “And it could have been a lot worse, huh?”
And although Ray knew those last words were words of truth and wisdom, he still could not help but wonder what lay ahead for him and his family. Part of his answer came sooner than later, for as the road took a turn to the left Ray and Billy suddenly found themselves blocked off from a storm-produced dam. It was made of anything and everything, from tree trunks and branches, to yard tools and mailboxes. Water was slowly coming through this curb-to-curb roadblock, and on the other side of the dam itself, towards their neighborhood, was standing water as far as the eye could see.
Ray got out and surveyed the destruction. There was no way to drive around this barricade. They would walk from here.
He jumped back into the car, and could see the tears on his son’s face. He put his hand on his son’s knee. “Let’s pray first.”
Billy nodded as he grabbed his father’s hand.
“Lord Jesus, I thank You that my wife and my children are safe. I pray for the less fortunate. I pray today for the hurt and the lost.” He felt Billy’s hand tighten. “Lord, we don’t know what we’re going to find when we get to our house, but help us stay strong, and help us to realize that no matter what lies ahead, in You, we have all that we need.”
Ray and Billy both stepped out of the car, and started their journey towards home.
Note: As Hurricane Rita made its way to the Gulf Coast last year, my family loaded up our car (with what we thought were the essentials of life), for a mandatory evacuation. Our usual 4½-hour trip to Dallas took us 16 hours, where we stayed until we were told by the city of Houston that we could come back…and we were fortunate, as our house and all in it were fine (Rita had turned to the east). As we draw closer to the one year anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, my thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost much more than time and convenience...
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